Clark County school districts will continue to follow county and state health and safety protocols in the coming weeks before the statewide mask mandate ends on March 21, officials say.
“Until it’s lifted, we will continue to enforce it. After that, we respect students’ and staff’s right to choose,” said Rita Sanders, a spokesperson for Battle Ground Public Schools.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced the decision in a joint press conference with state schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal on Thursday, outlining their goal of seeing statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations reach five new admissions per 100,000 over a seven-day period.
Clark County, as of this week, reported 24 new hospital admissions for COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over seven days.
After March 21, students in Washington schools may still wear masks while in class if they so choose.
Viral videos captured small-scale student protests in recent weeks in Battle Ground, Ridgefield and elsewhere — many featuring student leaders advocating for the ability to choose whether or not to remained masked in schools.
Last week, the Ridgefield School District’s board of directors approved a statement that recommended Inslee leave masking mandates up to counties and local officials. Inslee’s decision to end the mandate on March 21 aligns with that vision, said district spokesperson Joe Vajgrt.
“This is pretty much exactly what the board had in mind,” Vajgrt said. “The timeline makes sense, and we’re optimistic the trend can continue.”